Monday, February 4, 2008

Gliders Competitions Part 3

So what is all this F3B, F3J, F3F, F3K, Postals, HTL (Highveld Thermal League) stuff the glider pilots talk about. If you always thought it was boring to chase the one thermal after the other, then this is for you. There is various competitions in our country and internationally. The FIA have a few official classes for gliders. This is the F3B, F3J, F3F and lately F3K competitions. Each have its own rules of which I will not discuss the finer detail but rather give you and idea of the intention of the competition. You can earn your national colours by competing in these competitions at the world cup events. Let's start at the beginning where most glider competitors take part in, the Postals. This is a competition which you can fly at your local club and submit the scores to the national coordinator. You have to complete 5 flights of 6 minutes each and do a landing close to a spot. The basis of all the duration competitions is a point for each second up to the max time, starting with the release from the winch to coming to rest on landing. For every second after max time you will lose a point. So you have to land on the max time of 6 minutes exactly to earn maximum points. For each meter from the spot up to 15 meters you will lose 5 points from the total of 100 landing points. The postals scores can be entered for 2m, RES or Open classes. This competition is flown 4 times per year during February, May, August and November. The best three scores is your total for the year. In Gauteng a thermal league of 7 events are held every year. The events is rotated between the different clubs. The rules differ from event to event, but is mostly 10 minute max competitions with man on man rounds. You normally have only 12 minutes working time per slot. Your score are normalised against the best scores of the slot you fly in. Three or 4 man teams enter the event. The different classes which is scored are 2m, RES and Open. This competition is the breeding ground for aspiring SA team members. F3J is a thermal duration competition where only hand towing is allowed in stead of winches. 2 men will pull a glider with a pulley which produce massive launch heights in a short duration. The max time is 10 minutes, you only have 10 minutes working time. The time on the tow line is lost and therefore very short launches are done. F3B consists of 3 tasks. The duration task is a 10 minute max with landing. The speed task is flown with 2 sights 150m apart. The model have to do 4 length of this distance and the time is taken. The record is in the area of 14 seconds set by Darryl Perkins in South Africa. The distance task is flown with the same sights but the number of lengths flown are counted. This is the formula 1 of gliding competitions. F3F is a speed competition done on the slope and is similar than the F3B speed task. F3K is for handlaunch gliders and have many different tasks which can be flown depending on the organisers. MGA (Model Gliding Association) send every alternative year a team to the world cup for F3B and F3J. In order to qualify you have to take part in the official trial events. MGA also stage the nationals each year, where many of the different classes are competed for the SA champion. Well there you have it in a nutshell. I will be taking part in some of the competitions this year and you are welcome to join me (Assistance as timer or helper is also welcome). Cheers Gert

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